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Evgen: Synthetic version of broccoli compound is potential treatment for osteoarthritis

Evgen: Synthetic version of broccoli compound is potential treatment for osteoarthritis

A synthetic and stable form of a chemical found in broccoli could be used as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis after positive results from a study at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.

Recent research has found that eating cruciferous vegetables such as sprouts, cabbage and especially broccoli, can ease the symptoms of the chronic joint condition. This is because of a compound called sulforaphane which is released from the vegetable matter upon digestion. Tests have shown that the substance blocks certain enzymes that destroy the joint cartilage and also processes that cause the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis.

Sulforaphane can be derived from eating broccoli, but patients would have to consume substantial amounts on a daily basis to significantly alleviate any symptoms of the condition. Formulating sulforaphane into a medicine has also proved difficult as it is an unstable molecule rendering it impossible to manufacture into a regular pill format.

But UK pharmaceutical company, Evgen Pharma, who worked in collaboration with the RVC for this experiment, has synthesised a stable version of sulforaphane and incorporated it into a medication called Sulforadex (SFX-01). A single dose of the product provides as much sulforaphane as eating around 2.5kg of broccoli in a single day.

The RVC trial is the first time SFX-01 has been tested as a treatment for osteoarthritis in a laboratory setting. The initial findings are extremely encouraging according to Professor Andrew Pitsillides who is Professor of Skeletal Dynamics at the RVC.

Professor Pitsillides said: “These initial results are very positive for such an experiment and we have convinced ourselves that sulforaphane is a promising agent for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

“However, the clinical development of sulforaphane has been held back by the fact that it is inherently unstable. Thus, SFX-01 is a major advance in this area.”

Previous research studies have suggested that sulforaphane has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and human trials are already underway in these areas. But as SFX-01 is now seen as a viable treatment for arthritic joints, further pre-clinical testing and then human clinical trials are now needed.

Professor Pitsillides added: “Nearly nine million people in the UK have osteoarthritis and it costs the NHS more than £5 billion every year. There is no cure or effective treatment for the disease other than pain relief or joint replacement, so the potential for SFX-01 is massive.”

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